The obvious signs of a catered party–rented chafing dishes, mirrored trays, snap–draped tables, and starchy flowers–are nowhere to be seen at a function by Food Company, a three-year-old catering concern. Instead, the food is a straightforward interpretation of New American cuisine, and the table arrangements have a natural look that links the party to its surroundings.

“We’re not a Chinese-restaurant kind of caterer where you choose one item from column A and one from column B,” says Shelly Barsotti, the chef and menu planner. “It’s the client’s taste, not ours, that we want to focus on.”

For a Southwestern approach, the holiday menu starts with chimichangas filled with a spicy chicken-and-black-bean mixture; they are accompanied by a grilled-tomato-and-pepper salsa. Dallas goat cheese and fresh chopped herbs are folded into delicate avocado crepes; the crepes will be filled and folded just before serving. Bite-size tamales are stuffed with smoked shrimp and steamed; they need only to be garnished. Quail stuffed with a piquant crawfish-cornbread stuffing make a sensible holiday entrée–they are attractive resting on a bed of greens and roasted peppers. There are several vegetable combinations: a winter mix of Brussels sprouts braised with chestnets; yellow waz beans and green beans; and roasted new and sweet potato quarters. A rich cranberry-bourbon sauce is a refreshing counterpoint.

The dessert menu features some old ideas with a new twist, like a warm fruit crisp made with pears and cranberries and a tangy lemon caked studded with dried apricots and walnuts. It’s all food designed to suit the setting.

Time: 6 to 8 p.m.
Number of Guests: 40 at $50 per guest

Chicken Chimichangas, Avocado Crepes, Smoked-Shrimp Tamales

Roast Quail With Crawfish-Cornbread Stuffing
Braised Brussels Sprouts and Chestnuts
Wax Beans and Green Beans
Roasted New Potato and Sweet Potato Wedges
Spinach Salad With Ruby Red Grapefruit and Poached Scallops
Cranberry Relish
Cranberry-Bourbon Sauce

Cranberry-Pear Crisp, Pecan Pie
Lemon Cake, Berries and Whipped Cream With Cookies

La Crema Chardonnay, 1985